One of the most important aspects to sales is building relationships. It’s important not just for your current clients but also for potential clients, who are more likely to be persuaded by someone they know and trust.
That’s why one of your main objectives as a sales professional is not to sell products or services, but to build to relationships – and like with anything, building relationships is better to do before you need them.
1. Take time to build your relation
Most sales professionals don’t take the time to build a relation with their prospects and most will argue that it’s because they don’t have the time. Nothing could be further from the truth. What’s paradoxical about this, is that they don’t have the time not to build this relation. Forget about making the sale at first. What you want to do is get to know the person you’re sitting across from. What are they like? What do they care about? What kind of situation do they find themselves in? Once you understand that, you are well on your way to connecting with your customer on a much deeper level, than if you’re simply there to see if you can make a sale.
2. Have the audacity to stand in your own truth
Only the rarest of people in sales have the guts to show up as who they truly are. 99% of people in the sales business put on their game face all the time – and it shows. Customers can smell this inauthenticity from a mile away, and it hurts the relation. If you’re serious about making it to the top of the business, you need to put your fears aside and be willing to show up as who you really are – warts and all. As Brené Brown puts it, you must be willing to stand in your own truth.
3. Think business partner – not customer
The most successful sales professionals don’t think in terms of prospects, clients and sales. They think in terms of business partners. They do business exclusively with people who are – or have the potential to become – long term business partners. This means that regardless of the profitability of an engagement, it’s not going to be of interest if it’s only a one-shot deal. And the reason is, that great salespeople think in terms of alternative costs. They know that as soon as they give their attention to someone who they’re only going to involved with for a short time, then they take time away from building true, lasting, long-term and mutually profitable business relationships.
Forget about customers – this is a partnership game.
4. Build on the relations you have
The most successful people in the game of sales continuously use their existing relationships to build new ones. What I mean by this, is that they ask for referrals from the people they already know and care about as a standard and integrated part of their practice. Doing this makes it much easier to build new relations, because every new relation stands on the shoulders of an existing one. And when you’re getting introduced to another person, by someone you trust, you tend to let your guard down. And because the best in the business approach their relations from the point of view that they want to build the relation first and sell second (and only if it makes sense) makes it much easier to trust that person and as such build the relation to begin with.
There are an untold number of moving parts that separate the top performers in sales from the remainder of the people in the business, but when it comes to relationship selling, these four items keep showing up in the data over and over again.
This means that if you are to succeed you’ll do well to:
1. Take time to build each individual relation
2. Show up authentically in every interaction.
3. Forget about selling to begin with, and start by figuring out if this person has business partner potential.
4. Build up future relations based on your current one.